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COVID-19 Workplace Exposure


COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards

The Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards are still in effect. More information on the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards is available in Cal/OSHA's Frequently Asked Questions.

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The following questions, answers, and resources can help you establish protocols to follow when an employee has symptoms of COVID-19, tests positive for COVID-19 and when an employee has been exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19.

What Should I Do If An Employee Tests Positive?


    AB 685 (Chapter 84, Statutes of 2020) is a California law that requires employers to notify employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and to report workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 to their local health department.

    Report Workplace Outbreaks

    Worksite outbreak is 3 or more positive COVID-19 cases within 14 days. Report worksite outbreaks to Sonoma County Public Health at or (707) 565-4566. 

    For guidance on workplace exposure and outbreak, download the County of Sonoma Step by Step Guide to Managing COVID-19 Worksite Cases and Outbreaks

    Under AB 685, a COVID-19 case is someone who:

    • Has a positive viral test for COVID-19,
    • Is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider
    • Is ordered to isolate for COVID-19 by a public health official,
    • Dies due to COVID-19, as determined by a public health department.

    Employer Guidance on AB 685: Definitions

    Notify Employees of Workplace Exposure or Outbreaks

    Upon identifying a COVID-19 case in the workplace, you need to provide the following information:

    • Notice to your employees and the employer of subcontracted workers that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. You can inform other workers of the dates that an individual with COVID-19 was at the worksite but should not share information that could identify the affected individual. You must also provide this information to the exclusive labor representative, if any.
    • Information about benefits & options. You must provide your employees with information about COVID-19 benefits under federal, state, or local laws. This includes workers' compensation, company sick leave, state-mandated leave, supplemental sick leave, negotiated leave, and anti-retaliation and anti-discrimination protections.
    • A disinfection & safety plan. You need to inform your employees and the employer of subcontracted workers of your disinfection and safety plan for the worksite, in accordance with CDC guidelines. You must also provide this information to the exclusive labor representative, if any.

    What’s Next? 

    Follow Cal/OSHA's COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards to determine which employees must isolate or quarantine and for further mitigation requirements. 

    What Employers and Workers Need to Know About COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine - Cal/OSHA

      How Do You Determine Who Has Been Exposed?

      Exposure occurs:

      • When the employee is less than 6 feet away from the COVID-19 positive person for 15 minutes or longer
      • 48 hours or less prior to the COVID-19 positive person having symptoms.

      What if an employee has symptoms of COVID-19?

      When an employee becomes ill with COVID-19 type symptoms while at work, they should be sent home immediately. They should consult with their health care provider to determine if they need to be tested. If the healthcare provider determines they are likely to have COVID-19 or they have a positive test result, then they must follow isolation and quarantine instructions.

        Immediate Aftermath

        Determine which workplace areas need to be temporarily closed and arrange for enhanced cleaning and disinfection. Keep such areas closed for at least 24 hours. Make sure the cleaning service adheres to Cal/OSHA's COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards.

        Be prepared to provide information to employees to support them while quarantined, such as sick/medical leave resources and what to do when they are ready to return to work.

        Consult with the manager of your disability insurance program regarding potential workers’ compensation, unemployment, and processes.

        Additional Resources and Information